I have always struggled with that verse, and that line of the hymn, that God turned His face away in Jesus’ moment of greatest despair. That has never felt entirely fair or loving. It is finally landing with me, and giving me a new understanding of the Father’s heart.
In my job, and I know many others are in the same boat, I sometimes come face to face with the darkest of situations. We get the privilege often to step into people’s heaviest, hardest moments. That is a privilege, and a weighty one. Sometimes it means sitting across from someone who has wronged another person in any number of egregious ways. I have come to know my justice-driven heart much better through the last few years. I am protective and incredibly loyal to my people, and I am angered when someone, anyone, negatively influences the community of which I am in charge. I am consistently bringing to mind the Mr. Rogers phrase: “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” And if I am honest, I have not yet found the answer.
This week I came face to face with the heaviness of the broken reality of humanity — and that concept finally made sense. I wanted to turn my face away. It hurts to look right at it. I experienced a kindness in realizing that even God was unwilling to look at it straight on. His heart was so broken, and so mine can be too. And it is okay if I do not know what to do with that.
It became clear that God did not turn His face away because of Jesus, but surely because of our sin — which in that circumstance was piled on Jesus. He did not want to look away from His Son, but could not bear to see the One He loved so heavy with the weight of the world. It breaks my heart to see one dark situation; He carried them all.
The hope that I consistently find within the darkness is that God is so present to us there. When we cannot even bear to look straight at our grief or heartbreak, the Lord is there, Jesus is carrying our burdens. When everything feels so heavy, He tells us that His burden is light.
I am learning something else too, something so beautiful about God. I have been incredibly humbled in the face of these challenging circumstances. My soul has been brought low, considering that God loves us at all. I looked brokenness in the face this week and was angry and overwhelmed. I wanted to give up on humanity and quit everything. God sees it all, and yet He still loves us.
I literally cannot understand how He loves us. I am humbled and flabbergasted that He can see us in all our brokenness and evil and still look on us with love. It is actually mind blowing. And I am thankful for His promise that He will not destroy the earth again because wow, if it were me, I would have wanted to wipe it all away a billion times. His love and kindness towards us is actually unfathomable for me right now.
So while I work through my “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” I am trying to channel even one tiny particle of God’s love and compassion.
Truly, His mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. Without the hope of His love and mercy, I would be overcome by the weight of our brokenness.
My prayer this week was this: help me love and serve well. Help me see people as an opportunity not a problem to be fixed. Give me patience and wisdom and words to share that are helpful and healing. “Make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me show love.”
There is so much grace to be found in the hard times. God is so gracious to teach us and help us grow. He promises to draw near to the brokenhearted, and this week I have experienced that first hand. I pray that is true for you as well, wherever life finds you right now.
The Lent season walks us through darkness and into light. It reminds us of the brokenness of our world, and the God who came to save us. My life circumstances match this journey, as I begin Lent with a heavy heart and a whole lot of questions. I look forward that much more to the light and the redemption that comes in the Easter celebration. Hope is always coming our way.